Nordetect’s Data Farmer Digest is a knowledge center designed to support members of the AgTech industry through shared resources and knowledge. It's where we gather our most valuable learnings on leveraging data and technology for farms. Our goal is to enable growers, consultants, agronomists, and other AgTech professionals to improve their growth strategies.

This month’s Data Farmer covers nutrient and yield tips for growers, helpful articles, and interesting perspectives on vertical farming.

Tips for Higher Crop Yield

1. Is your basil citrusy or grassy?

David Hawley, Ph.D., principal scientist at Fluence by OSRAM, studies how light impacts crop aromas and flavors. For instance, basil grown under far-red-enriched white light was more earthy while basil grown under blue/UV-enriched white light was more citrusy. Growers can manipulate light not just to refine their crops and yield, but also to enhance a specific terpene profile.

Since secondary goals, like smell and flavor, often come at the cost of primary goals such as yield, it’s important for the cultivators to first establish their goals based on market demand. While maximizing yields is great, consider differentiating your product based on nutrition, aroma, and other sensory factors, especially if you’re a cannabis grower.

2. Nutrient analysis for hydroponic tomato production

Water and nutrient solution sampling should be conducted on a weekly basis to ensure tomatoes receive proper levels of nutrients. Conduct the sampling at the two sources:

  1. Feed: The nutrient solution pumped from the irrigation system to the plants.
  2. Drain: The leachate from the substrate. This is critical to an effective fertilization strategy.

“In applying fertilizer to a plant grown either in soil or in a soilless medium, the goal is to match the nutrient uptake of the crop as closely as possible to the amount provided as fertilizer,” said Mary Peet, USDA, Division of Plant Systems-Production.

Using a portable nutrient analyzer, like Nordetect’s system, allows growers to test samples and receive real-time results right in the field. This creates the opportunity to optimize crop nutrients on the spot. Your nutrient analyzer should help you track nutrients consumed by the plants and the efficiency of your irrigation system over time. These types of data inform your growing decisions and help you produce the best outcomes.

If your current analyzer isn’t supporting your needs, or you’re just exploring which nutrient management system is right for your operation, we’d welcome the opportunity to talk through your nutrient challenges and discover how Nordetect can support you.

3. To perfect cannabis is to reduce environmental fluctuations

Jessica McKiel of Cannabis Tech talks about how the answers to environmental fluctuations in an indoor grow facility are precise controls and faster reactions. She collates a list of non-negotiable data points we need to track and micro-manage to improve our harvest.

Articles That Caught Our Eye

  • A Closer Look at LED Efficacy: In 2018, DesignLights Consortium (DLC) established technical requirements for LED-based horticultural lighting products. A product that meets or exceeds a minimum PPE of 1.9 μmol∙J⁻¹ is relatively energy efficient, long lasting, safe to use, and tolerant of growing conditions (e.g., high humidity). Erik Runkle, professor and floriculture extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University predicts that horticultural LEDs can increase in efficacy by around 25%.
  • FoodTank’s Winter 2022 Book List: Resources to Strengthen Local Food Systems: Whether you’re an engineer working in AgTech or a consumer, this reading list is sure to get you thinking about food security for your community. With numerous stories intersecting people, food, technology, and policy, you’ll want to add these books to your best-reads list.
  • An Unspoken Benefit of EVs: Less Auto Fluids Washed Into Our Waterways: Sure, Electric Vehicles bring tons of environmental benefits; they prevent oil spills, reduce carbon emissions, use recyclable materials, and more. However, one major benefit rarely spoken about is this: unlike other cars, EVs don’t need automotive fluids to run! With 180 million gallons of auto fuels washed into water bodies in the US alone, this is just one more reason to invest in an electric vehicle.

3 Interesting Perspectives Changing Food Systems

1. “We have false dichotomies. We have people saying, we want to go back to farming as it happened 200 years ago because it will be closer to an older system and that will be replicable. But those systems also had failures. And then there are new innovations, like technology-driven systems, but they may not be accessible in many rural areas. We say it's rural against urban and never the twain shall meet. We talk about farmers and consumers as if they aren’t in a food system that intersects. These challenges seem to be pitting our food against our plant, but in fact, the whole food system needs all these pieces to work together.”

Robynne Anderson talking about the Future of Food Systems at Agritecture’s Digital Conference Series

2. "In a greenhouse, [the] limiting factor for when we can grow these [berry] plants is it’s really hard to maintain cool enough conditions in the summertime. If we have high night temperatures above the low 60s, we get poorer berry production and poorer fruit quality."

Neil Mattson, Cornell University at the Empire State Producers Expo 2022: Berry Production in Containers

3. “Having owned and operated restaurants in my past, I saw that that was an area that I wanted to get back to. And I saw that my real estate experience would play into that because I knew how to put together deal structures. And I felt that farming, and urban farming in particular, had a tremendous opportunity with the right deal structure. And that’s how I got into it.”

Michael Sichenzia, Managing Director at Go Global Advisors talking about Blueprint for Launching a Successful Vertical Farm

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